As Slow Art Day participants, we know the sublime experience that we can have by slowing down to observe and truly take in a piece of art. We spend 10 minutes, 15 minutes—up to an hour—and encourage others to do the same. But we don’t think to suggest that people should spend all day everyday in front of the same artwork. It would never occur to us. Would anyone do that?
These women are retired professionals who serve as guards in art museums all over Russia. They sit on chairs near a particular piece of art in the gallery, their presence so constant that they become part of the viewing experience. Freeberg noticed visual connections between the women and the art they were sitting with, which prompted him to begin taking photos that turned into the Guardians project, a photographic exploration of this uniquely Russian phenomenon.